Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Last updated on the 4 July 2024 by Maeve

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Mini Biography

Born: April 21, 1983, Oxford, England.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is an English actress who has starred in various films, television shows, and theatre productions. She was born to a South African doctor father and an English nurse mother. Her first name is a shortened version of Gugulethu, which means “our pride” in Zulu. She grew up in Witney, Oxfordshire and developed an interest in acting, dance and musical theatre from a young age. She joined the National Youth Theatre and later moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Gugu Mbatha-raw as Belle
Gugu Mbatha-raw as Belle

Gugu Mbatha-Raw began her career with minor roles on British television, such as Bad Girls, Doctor Who, and Marple. She gained recognition for her stage roles as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Octavia in Anthony and Cleopatra at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in 2005. She also played Ophelia in Hamlet opposite Jude Law in the West End and on Broadway in 2009. She received an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination for her performance as Nell Gwynn in Jessica Swale’s play of the same name in 2015.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw made her breakthrough in film with the lead role of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race aristocrat in 18th-century England, in the period drama Belle (2013). She won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress for her portrayal. She followed this with another acclaimed role as Noni Jean, a troubled pop star, in the romantic drama Beyond the Lights (2014). She also co-starred in the Emmy Award-winning Black Mirror episode “San Junipero” (2016), a sci-fi love story set in different eras.

Gugu Mbatha-raw and Mackenzie Davis in San Junipero
Gugu Mbatha-raw and Mackenzie Davis in San Junipero

Gugu Mbatha-Raw has appeared in several other films, such as the comedy Larry Crowne (2011), the thriller Miss Sloane (2016), the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (2017), the fantasy A Wrinkle in Time (2018), the crime drama Motherless Brooklyn (2019), the comedy-drama Misbehaviour (2020) and the war drama Summerland (2020). She has also starred in the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show (2019) and the Disney+ series Loki (2021–present).

Gugu Mbatha-Raw was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for her services to drama. She is also a global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2021. She is known for her activism on issues such as racial equality, women’s rights and refugee rights. She is currently based in Los Angeles, California.


Suggested viewing


Black Mirror – San Junipero (2016)

San Junipero poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.6

The story takes place in a beach town in California called San Junipero. It follows the lives of two women, Yorkie and Kelly, who meet each other at a club. Yorkie is shy and reserved while Kelly is outgoing and adventurous. Despite their differences, they are drawn to each other and begin a romantic relationship. However, things are not as simple as they appear. As Yorkie explores this new world with Kelly’s help, she discovers that there may be more to it than meets the eye.

Top cast: Gugu Mbatha-raw, Mackenzie Davis, Denise Burse, Raymond McAnally, Gavin Stenhouse, Cheryl Anderson, Jackson Bews, Annabel Davis.


Belle (2013)

Belle poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.6

“Belle” is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the colour of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

Top cast: Gugu Mbatha-raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton.

Related to

Amazing Grace film poster


Gugu Mbatha-Raw full filmography @ Wikipedia
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